Surprisingly, most people don’t realize that the popular idiom, “The Devil is in the detail” is actually derived from the more encouraging phrase, “God is in the detail,” i.e. pay attention to the small things as they are important. Both adages are more relevant now than ever, particularly because the average human is now daily agreeing to privacy policies with which, if they were to actually read the fine print, would probably not agree to at all. Such is the case with the numerous policies you are “accepting” when you install apps on your smartphone. What policy acceptance? The one hidden behind a small pop-up that says your data will be shared with other parties to improve your experience, or some other vaguely worded reminder that you are sharing data with a company in exchange for the free (or sometimes paid) use of an app.
What this means for you
“Yeah, yeah, I know, they are watching my every move,” my clients have said to me, “I’ve got nothing to hide.” Or, “It’s a small price to pay for this wonderful app/service/game.” Except most aren’t aware of how much data is being tracked, or what it can used for, aside from advertising. If you’d like a small taste of how this data is being assembled and the level of detail it can offer into everyone’s daily routines, read this article from the NY Times, “Your Apps Know Where You Were Last Night, and They’re Not Keeping It Secret” – it’s a very easy read and has some nice interactive visual aids to bring the point home. Despite its approachable tone, the content of the article should be unsettling for everyone. For example, when asked to explain why their prompt to grant access to very precise coordinate data and permission to share with 16 companies was instead presented as a way to “recommend local teams and players that are relevant to you,” a spokesperson for the app responded (emphasis ours):
Let’s be honest here: I’m in this business up to my neck, and even I don’t read those privacy policies, but only because I know exactly what I’m trading for the use of a “free” app. You have a much more relatable excuse: “Ain’t nobody got time for ‘dat.” You are not wrong, but in the pursuit of better deals, faster commutes, cheaper gas or just weather updates, we have traded a precious commodity: privacy. And lest you forget, privacy is not about hiding secrets, but about not wanting to share everything about your life with complete strangers who only view you as a profit center. This is yet another glimpse of the elephant on the internet around which everyone is still carefully tip-toeing. Make sure you are paying attention!
Image courtesy of TAW4 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
If you’ve held off buying a Surface tablet in the hopes that the new device would settle in and get its legs after a less-than-stellar showing at launch, you have probably been disappointed to find that instead of capturing the hearts and minds of the public (or the media), the Surface continues to struggle for identity in the shadow of the iPad and, to a lesser degree, Google’s Nexus tablets. Zach Epstein at BGR.com had one of the more favorable launch reviews of the tablet, and 30 days later, he updates his stance: he’s still thumbs way up on the hardware, but finds that Microsoft’s innovative hardware is limited by Windows RT, the tablet-only version of Windows 8, and its still-thin selection of apps.
What this means for you:
Mobile warriors looking to get work done via tablet alone (that aren’t already doing it via the iPad or Nexus) may still find themselves hamstrung by the limitations of the Windows RT and the lack-luster selection of apps. Even if you spend most of your time in Microsoft Office, performance of Outlook RT is still poor, and if there’s one thing people won’t suffer, its a slow email client.
Look carefully at the applications you need to exist as a tablet-capable version before chucking your laptop for any tablet (not just the Surface), and even if it does exist, make sure it meets your needs before investing. Die-hard tablet enthusiasts will be able to surmount most of the limitations of Windows RT just by virtue of their innate patience and willingness to “hack” around problems, but if you are someone who’s patience is tried even by the ultra-polished iPad, don’t even think about a Surface at least until the Windows 8 Pro versions arrive in early 2013.
Just a week after the debut of Windows 8, Microsoft held a press event in San Francisco, CA to announce the arrival of the latest version of its smartphone platform, dubbed Windows Phone 8. Timed to coincide with (and possibly to even eclipse) Google’s canceled East-coast press event, Microsoft instead had to fight for media attention with Hurricane Sandy. As a distant fourth place competitor, Microsoft has struggled to gain a toe hold in the smartphone race, facing daunting leads from Apple and Google, and even trailing the flagging RIM Blackberry platform.
What this means for you:
Unless you are a true-blue Microsoft fanatic, you more than likely already own a smartphone that gets the job done. There is a distinct possibility for Microsoft to overtake RIM’s Blackberry platform as the corporate phone of choice, but many enterprises have already opened their iron curtains for iPhones and Android devices. Gaining RIM’s share of the pie will only put them in 3rd place, and as such, integration into corporate environments will still take a backseat to solidifying usage of the dominant platforms. Most adopters of this platform will either be disatisfied technophiles looking for something fresh and different from iOS and Android, or corporate technologists investigating the platforms ability to integrate with existing Microsoft infrastructure. Microsoft’s primary hurdle in getting people to buy Windows phone remains in the lackluster app development landscape, which continues to be dominated by iPhone. Many of the most popular apps aren’t available yet for Windows Phone 8, and their arrival (if they come at all) will likely lag iOS and Android versions by months. If your primary smartphone usage is focused on making calls, checking email, and sharing pictures with your phone, Windows Phone 8 will get the job done, but if you like apps and don’t consider yourself an “early adopter”, give the platform at least another 6 months before weighing a change in platforms.